Patriotism and Propaganda in First World War Britain: The National War Aims Committee and Civilian Morale

By David Monger | Go to book overview

Conclusion

THE NWAC’s activities ceased shortly after the armistice. Sanders told MPs on 14 November that the Committee had warned all WACs ten days earlier that activities would be suspended during a general election. Sanders reported that it ‘has also been decided to suspend all meetings and publications during the period of the Armistice’, barring a couple of final newspaper supplements, an edition of Reality and a pre-arranged tour of the western front for trade unionists. Sanders also confirmed that parliamentary candidates would not be permitted to use NWAC pamphlets in their campaigns.1 Having been suspended, the Committee effectively ceased to exist. Its MPs, secretaries and the party staff speakers addressed themselves to the election, while salaried staff sought other appointments.2 It was seemingly the first propaganda organisation to shut down fully, with responsibility for its cinemotors transferred to the National War Savings Committee on 14 December. The Ministry of Information, Lord Northcliffe’s enemy propaganda organisation at Crewe House and the Press Bureau followed shortly thereafter. As Sanders and Taylor note, ‘the reputation which the British government earned for the successful employment of propaganda was not one of which many contemporaries felt proud. It was … a somehow “un-English” activity’ only acceptable in retaliation to enemy efforts.3

Notwithstanding the unease at the use of domestic propaganda, however, Gerard Fiennes was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1920 specifically for his wartime role in the NWAC’s Publicity Department, suggesting governmental appreciation of domestic propaganda’s worth.4 Two other key Committee members were less well

1 PDC(5), 110, 14/11/18, col. 2869.

2 E.g. letter by Maynard Saunders (Publicity Department) in TNA:PRO HO139/35/146.

3 TNA:PRO T102/9, NWAC to Proprietor, North Eastern Railway Hotel Garage, York, 2/1/19. Sanders and Taylor, British Propaganda, p. 248.

4 ‘Civilian War Honours’, Times, 31/3/20, p. 18.

-268-

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